Makeup Your Mind

17 Gen Zers On How They’re Doing Their Makeup Post-Pandemic

To full glam or not to full glam?

After spending much of the past year indoors, under masks, and generally staying out of the public eye, things are finally opening up. And with that comes increasing opportunity to see and be seen again. And with that comes navigating what post-pandemic life will look like, from things like hugging people (or not) to what you look like when you leave the house. As you get ready to face this world, a major question lingers: What will makeup look like post-pandemic?

Sure, how you wear your makeup may not seem as pressing as figuring out whether shaking hands is still a no-go, but let’s be real: It’s probably been on your mind, right? There hasn’t been much reason to get really dolled up this past year. Beyond a Zoom call or a dinner with your pod, the expectation to go full glam — and for some, put makeup on at all — had largely dissipated, with social-distancing guidelines leaving little more reason for it than your own enjoyment of the practice. For most, this gave way to scaling back heavy makeup in favor of a greater focus on skin care. However, others doubled down on their makeup routines, using the extra time to consume more makeup tutorials, try bolder looks, and grasp at some sense of normalcy and joy.

The common denominator is that most people have redefined their relationship with makeup in some way. But as social plans become more frequent, what does that mean for makeup? Will people continue to opt for fresh faces over full coverage? Or is makeup back and bolder than ever? Here’s how 17 Gen Zers plan to approach post-pandemic makeup.

These Gen Zers are opting for light and natural post-pandemic makeup.

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“I think post-pandemic makeup for everyday people is gonna be more natural. Everyone during quarantine was experimenting with glam, eccentric looks when we had time to sit down and do that. But once everything is lifted, I feel like people are just gonna want to rush and get outside to do things. For me, I love to wear a simple shadow eyeliner with a natural, light, highlighted face. It goes with everything and just slightly elevates any outfit or aesthetic.” — Paige, 18

“I’ve been doing way less makeup than I did pre-pandemic, which wasn’t even a lot. I used to do eyeliner, concealer, and mascara every day, and now, I maybe do mascara. I haven’t been concealing my dark circles at all because I just don’t care. I also am too lazy to take off makeup, so I don’t want to put it on.” — Madison, 22

“I’m currently obsessed with Glossier and Summer Fridays vibes. The less-is-more look is my thing. I used to do my full makeup, but after the pandemic, I realized I feel more myself when I’m wearing a natural look. My favorite products are Glossier’s Cloud Paint ($18, Glossier) and NiteShine Highlighter, and for lips, I love NARS Oil-Infused Lip Tint ($26, NARS).” — Irma, 25

“My summer makeup is going to be natural. I stopped getting eyelash extensions when COVID started and haven’t bothered going back. I realized how terrified I was to look at myself without extensions and thought of how messed up that was. Now, I’m embracing my natural beauty. Plus, during COVID, I downloaded TikTok, and there are so many skin care tips. It inspired me to take better care of my skin, so now, I only use a tinted moisturizer with SPF for foundation. I also let my eyebrows grow out and don’t fill them in any more — I just brush them up with gel. If I’m going out, I’ll do eyeliner and add half glue-on lashes, but that’s pretty much it. Glowy, dewy, and fresh-looking this summer!” — Alicia, 24

“I’m def doing more natural and easy looks. If I’m going out out, maybe I’ll do a look that I can take from day to night. However, I’m really focusing on making my skin look glowy and healthy. Also, bright colors on the eyes will def be something I’ll be doing, along with blush — lots of blush!” — Jamie, 23

“This summer, I’ve been applying the ‘less is more’ vibe to my makeup. Mostly, I’ve been wearing a bit of mascara, brow gel, blush, and highlighter to achieve that fresh-faced, glowy look. If I want to take it up a notch, I’ll add some tinted moisturizer and lip gloss. Honestly, though, I’m super excited to actually wear makeup again, since I barely wore any last year.” — Rachel, 22

“I am definitely keeping it natural. Before COVID, I spent so much time doing ‘full glam.’ I used heavier foundations, heavier concealers — you name it. Since all my meetings are online, I use skin tints with cream blushes and highlighters. I even dabbled with Freck Beauty’s OG Freckle product ($22, Freck Beauty). The results are so natural. I don’t plan to go full glam again unless it’s for a big event.” — Natasha, 25

These beauty lovers are ready to bring back full glam for the post-vax world.

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“I am much more adventurous with my makeup post-pandemic. I think it’s because I’m finally around other people again, and I love the attention. I’ve been doing super bold looks, specifically monochromatic lids. There’s also just still not a lot to do in the UK right now, since not everyone’s been offered a vaccine, so it’s something fun and creative to spend my time on.” — Dagny, 21

“I think that, post-pandemic, I will be going back to full glam. Before the pandemic, I wore natural makeup, but I miss wearing makeup.” — Fatouma, 24

“Los Angeles ain't ready for my makeup looks this summer! As someone who only wore makeup for special occasions or during performances, makeup suddenly became a source of joy for me during the pandemic. Since I wasn't going out, makeup became a ritual for whenever I was bored or wanted to feel like things were a bit more ‘normal.’ I also got really into painting my nails. With Hot Girl Summer reincarnated, I plan on continuing to use makeup as an artistic form of self-expression and self-love. I am beautiful! Wearing makeup is a cool way to change up my look, enhance an outfit, and make a statement, and sparkles are a must this summer. I want my makeup to be light and beautiful. I'm ready to be out in the sunshine.” — Lina, 22

“I going full glam this summer. I never did it before, but because I had a year to watch all the tutorials, I am looking the most while doing the least. Every day is worth celebrating, and I just feel like I have to make up for the last year. I was also always a lipstick girl and masks really didn’t mix with that, so now that most places are more lax [with masks], I can finally wear lipstick again.” — Nathaly, 25

“My post-pandemic makeup style is a little bit of everything all at once. Wearing masks for the past year has taught me less is more when it comes to face makeup, like foundation or concealers, because the maskne was real. I keep my foundation minimal and finish with a light powder and cream highlight to really give my skin that glowy effect. As a result of keeping my face neutral, I’m all about making the eyes pop. I like to blend the classic winged liner with colorful graphic liners above, below, and around. I usually try to contrast a classic black wing with pops of pastel or neon gradients on the top of my lid or directly on top of the wing itself. Post-pandemic, truthfully, nothing is off the table.” — Hayley, 22

“Post-pandemic, I’m going full glam with my makeup — especially on my eyes. I really want them to shine and show how happy I am that we’re regaining some normalcy. Lip gloss has been my best friend in recent months, and I don’t plan on changing anything there.” — Emerald, 20-something

And these Gen Zers hope to combine the best of both makeup worlds as the world opens back up.

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“I prefer more of a breathable, natural glow, and I like to let my freckles show, so this summer, I’m going light on the face makeup and going wild on the eye makeup. I love colorful liners and glitter all year. There’s no limit to the color combinations, but I usually choose colors that will nicely accent whatever I’m wearing. I just need to be religious with that setting spray because it’s a sweaty summer.” — Christina, 22

“[I’m wearing] natural but fun graphic liner if I’m going out, or bold lips now that the vaxxed can unmask.” — Madeline, 23

“I’m honestly using summer as a means to experiment with what works and what doesn’t for makeup. For me, everything revolves around the mask. I’m keeping it relatively natural right now in terms of the base and lips, since most people won’t see it, but I’m keeping my giant 25mm lashes on no matter what. I normally love a full glam, but it just doesn’t hit the same because of the pandemic. I will say, however, that foundation finish and brand matter more now than ever, since the transfer is something that I really despise with the mask.” — Gabriella, 20

“This summer, I want to wear minimal to no makeup on most days, but when I do, I want to step outside of the box. I want to explore more with glitter, false lashes, and eyebrow pencils. I rarely touch my eyebrows, but I think the summer is a great time to explore and try new things. I’ve never worn falsies, but with the extra time the summer offers, I’ll be able to practice the application and hopefully nail it. As for glitter, I want to see if I can find any waterproof glitter that won’t come off when I go swimming. That would be epic.” — Casey, 21